The growing application of remote sensing data using drones in South Africa has necessitated the need for legislation regarding the operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). One of the requirements is that drone operator have an accredited pilot license to fly a drone. In FABI, both Phumlani Nzuza, a PhD candidate and Dr Quentin Santana, a postdoctoral Fellow have recently completed a Remote Piloted Aircraft pilot course and license accredited by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. The course was offered by Enterprises University of Pretoria and Drone Safety Legal. The course covered the legal aspects of flying drones in South Africa, as well as the scientific and practical aspects of flying and maintaining a remotely piloted aircraft.

The Satellite Lab in Remote Sensing of Plant Health and the Crop Floral Biology and Environment research group at FABI, in collaboration with Prof. Wouter Maes and Dr Rene Heim from the University of Ghent,  will use multispectral image data  captured using a drone for both precision forestry and agricultural applications. Phumlani Nzuza’s project aims to develop a system to detect and monitor the Eucalyptus Snout Beetle (Gonipterus sp. n. 2) in plantations within South Africa using both satellite and drone imagery. While Dr Quentin Santana’s and Dr Nicky Creux's project aims to detect disease and stress on maize plants using drone image data. In the upcoming summer season, monitoring of Gonipterus sp. n. 2 will begin in collaboration with members of the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR).  A special thank you to Prof Barnard Slippers for offering support and funding to undertake the course and Sappi and Mondi for their help and support of the Gonipterus sp. n. 2 remote sensing project.